By Jay Cook |
HIGHLANDS – Marked by three white plastic drums, a disintegrating hull and rails from the bow protruding above the surface, an abandoned vessel is sinking in a local river.
Located nearly equidistant between the Seastreak Ferry Highlands Terminal and the newly renovated Sandy Hook Bay Marina, the craft rests about 50 yards from the shoreline, outside of the river channel.
“It’s disgraceful that nobody stepped up here,” said Scott Milsom, a Seastreak rider and Rumson resident.
Milsom said he is one of many concerned Seastreak riders who pass the once-moored boat each day on their way to work.
After a nor’easter in March, Milsom noted that the boat began taking on water and would eventually start sinking beneath the river to where it now rests today.
Considering its location outside of the river channel, Seastreak says the craft does not concern the regional transportation company.
“It’s certainly something that we’ll keep an eye on and be aware of,” said Brett Chamberlain, director of marketing for Seastreak. “At this time it doesn’t inhibit our operations.”
According to Doug Card, a borough councilman in Highlands, the owner is a Highlands resident who currently does not have the necessary funds to salvage or remove the boat, though he is actively trying to retrieve it. Card reached out to the boat owner, who he knows by first name only, yet did not hear back from him.
“There’s no adversarial position here,” Card said, referring to the borough and the boat owner.
Petty Officer Frank Iannazzo-Simmons, a spokesman with the 1st District United States Coast Guard (USCG), said his office in Boston has been privy to the boat’s status since it began taking on water weeks ago.
“We are aware of it, but we don’t have any current involvement in the salvage,” Iannazzo-Simmons said. “That will go through a commercial company.”
Normally, when calls come in about water crafts taking on water, the USCG is dispatched to assist. Iannazzo-Simmons said preserving life is paramount to ensuring property safety. In this instance, he said no lives were in danger.
After the salvage is complete, the USCG will come to the location and ensure there is no “pollution or hazards to navigation,” he added.
Overall health in Jersey Shore waterways is vital to one local conservation group, that is concerned about debris breaking off and floating into the channel.
“It’s a hazard,” said Greg Remaud, deputy director of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “With any loose piece of material floating around the harbor, the harder or sharper it is, the more damaging it can be.”
Along the beachfront directly near the boat, a section of dashboard washed up onto the shore – complete with nails and now destroyed navigational equipment
Remaud said the collective health of the local waterways within the Two River area is unfortunately taken for granted.
“If we just started abandoning cars on the side of the road, people would be up in arms,” he said. “It’s different in our waterways.”
Late last week during an early morning low tide, a few clamming and fishing boats drove by the half-sunken vessel. A Seastreak ferry returning back to Highlands after a morning trip from New York City hummed right by.
With Memorial Day less than three weeks away, both the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers will experience an influx of boaters. “No one wants to beat somebody when they’re down,” Remaud said, referring to the boat owner. “But every boater in every marina nearby is at risk.”
This article was first published in the May 11-18, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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